At­lanta’s LGBT com­mu­nity is a farce

Ash­leigh Atwell is a queer les­bian writer and or­ga­nizer born and raised in At­lanta, GA.

GA Voice - - In The Margin | Creep of the Week - By Ash­leigh Atwell

I’m not a band­wagon writer, so be­fore I sat down to type, I scrolled through a cou­ple of months’ worth of Ge­or­gia Voice colum­nist ar­chives to make sure I wasn’t beat­ing a dead horse. I didn’t find any­thing. I was re­lieved but I was also dis­ap­pointed be­cause it proves my point: At­lanta only has an LGBT com­mu­nity by name and it has been that way for a long time.

This ar­ti­cle was sup­posed to be about how LGB peo­ple are leav­ing trans­gen­der peo­ple be­hind and it still is but the di­vide is so much deeper than that. The Ge­or­gia state Se­nate re­cently passed HB 757, a so-called “religious free­dom bill,” and LGBT Ge­or­gians are right­fully livid. Religious free­dom bills have be­come the new­est bigot trend af­ter the op­po­si­tion re­al­ized they were los­ing the fight against mar­riage equal­ity.

I’m pissed about it but I’m also mad that the main­stream (white) LGBT com­mu­nity doesn’t give a shit about the rest of the acro­nym un­til the first two let­ters are af­fected. As long as the white gay sta­tus quo isn’t dis­turbed, it doesn’t mat­ter. Ev­ery­one is pissed about HB 757 but doesn’t bat an eye­lash at the “trans panic” de­fense that is le­gal in ev­ery state ex­cept Cal­i­for­nia. But that doesn’t mat­ter be­cause no one cares when trans peo­ple, es­pe­cially women, are mur­dered any­way, right?

In 28 states, in­clud­ing Ge­or­gia, a per­son can be fired for be­ing gay but the num­ber rises to 32 if a per­son is trans­gen­der. In late Fe­bru­ary, a Rich­mond, Vir­ginia trans­gen­der woman went to the me­dia af­ter she was fired for be­ing trans mere hours af­ter be­ing hired by KFC. Cait­lyn Jen­ner has peo­ple think­ing trans is­sues are in the fore­front but nah— not close. A trans space at Pride might pop up ev­ery now and again but GayTL, like the rest of the sup­posed LGBT hubs, doesn’t re­ally care about trans peo­ple.

As I scrolled through the ar­chives and pe­rused a cou­ple of ar­ti­cles, one state­ment by one colum­nist caught my eye and sub­se­quently made it twitch. He bragged about the “gays” turn­ing “un­de­sir­able ar­eas” into “vi­brant, thriv­ing ar­eas.” No shade to my fel­low writer, but I was dis­turbed. Peo­ple like me—col­ored and poor—are usu­ally the ones that are pushed out by “re­vi­tal­iza­tion” ef­forts. Mid­town is def­i­nitely a gay hotspot but only if you’re a cer­tain type of gay.

It’s easy to wax po­etic about how great At­lanta is when you aren’t liv­ing pil­low to post as my el­ders would say. GayTL can’t af­ford to be that ob­tuse when there are peo­ple at the Capi­tol try­ing to screw all of us over. We can­not just call our­selves a com­mu­nity; we should be liv­ing it as well. I should be able to walk my black be­hind into any es­tab­lish­ment that claims to be queer friendly and feel com­fort­able. I shouldn’t have to feel left out be­cause of some twink’s dis­dain for my skin color. I shouldn’t have to worry about my friends and I be­ing kicked out of an es­tab­lish­ment be­cause our at­tire is too eth­nic for the owner’s (who can’t spell du-rag prop­erly) taste a la Blake’s.

As As­sata Shakur once said, we must love each other and sup­port each other. Un­til we can do that, there is no such thing as an LGBT com­mu­nity in At­lanta.

“Mid­town is def­i­nitely a gay hotspot but only if you’re a cer­tain type of gay. It’s easy to wax po­etic about how great At­lanta is when you aren’t liv­ing pil­low to post as my el­ders would say. GayTL can’t af­ford to be that ob­tuse when there are peo­ple at the Capi­tol try­ing to screw all of us over.”

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